Speaking of letters, texting is painful. In place of the predictive text used on keypad phones, Nokia has created a system that brings the five most likely next letters to the beginning of the alphabet. It works well for common words, but there are still times when you have to spin through the whole alphabet. It took us 26 seconds to write, 'Where are you' and 95 seconds to spell out 'The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.' Impatience often caused us to overshoot and the complexity of the task left us with no spare brain power to handle spelling or grammar. If you send a lot of text messages, you won't like this phone.
Another problem with the 'five buttons and a spinner' approach is that it's hard to do anything mid call. When you're hit with the dreaded 'Press 1 to continue' voice prompt, for example, you have to press one of the soft keys, spin down the menu and select Send DTMF, pick out the correct number, press the soft key again and then press Select. By this time you've been passed on to an operator because you were too slow to respond.
Likewise, changing the earpiece volume involves a press and a spin and a press and a spin, with the phone away from your ear so you can see what you're doing. You can make these operations easier by switching to speakerphone mode, which only involves pressing two buttons. At top volume the speakerphone is loud enough to be embarrassing in a quiet office.
The VGA camera is fine for MMS and Nokia makes it easy to capture and send images. You can take normal 640 x 480-pixel images or switch to Portrait mode to capture tiny 80 x 96-pixel images to add to your Contacts. There's a 4x digital zoom, a self timer and night mode for capturing images in low light. That's your lot, though -- and considering the size of the screen, it's enough. The camera is a handy extra rather than a core feature of the phone.
Using the default settings, images have good colours, but are soft and show a lot of JPEG artefacts. Switching to the High Quality setting reduces the compression and makes a marked improvement in the sharpness and smoothness of the images, at the expense of increasing the file size. At a pinch, and with good light, you could capture a printable image.
The 7280 supports GPRS and even has a built-in browser. Viewing Web pages on the tiny screen is like reading the paper through your letterbox, but it does work. More usefully, you can use the phone as a wireless modem for another device, such as a laptop or PDA.
Other features include a voice recorder that enables you to record a call or voice memo for up to three minutes. Organiser features include an alarm clock, calendar, to-do list and notes. It supports Bluetooth as well as infrared and we had no problems pairing it with a Sony Ericsson headset. It doesn't have games or support for Java -- this is a phone for your party lifestyle, not for sitting in a corner playing Snake. There isn't a music player, but you can listen to FM radio using the supplied stereo headset. You can scan for the next occupied frequency and save the locations of your favourite stations. Assuming you have a good signal, the music is very clear.
Call audio was clear and adequately loud, once we'd adjusted the earpiece volume (that ought to be a no-brainer, but because the volume setting is tucked away in a menu, it's easy to miss). The people we called had no problems hearing us. GPRS connections dropped out occasionally, but no more so than with other phones.
Battery life appeared to be in the middle of the range. It typically lasted a few days between charges, rather than the week or more we've seen with some phones. However, it certainly isn't as power hungry as the big-screen smartphones.
Edited by Michael Parsons
Additional editing by Nick Hide